Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Why Facebook’s Debugger Tool Should Be In Your Content Creation Arsenal

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Facebook; for many content creators it’s a great place to help seed content and get it noticed.  But what a lot of people fail to realize is that how that content is shared and how it appears on Facebook can be greatly impacted by how Facebook initially scrapes the content.  If Facebook scrapes bad information or can’t access information about the content, it can impact everything from title, to description, and even the imagery associated with the post.  Left uncorrected, any shares or Like’s your content receives may not show up the way you had hoped in Facebook timelines, which can result in fewer clicks and less engagement.  Thankfully, Facebook’s Debugger Tool  can aid in correcting the issue.

So what exactly am I talking about when I say Facebook may be scraping bad information?  Take a look at the example below, which I captured a few weeks ago from Fast Company’s Co.Create (which is an amazing site by the way, if you’re not already reading it I highly recommend it.)  I was attempting to share a piece on Ithaca Audio’s History of Rock video and when I did, the only information that displayed on Facebook was the domain  There was no imagery, no title, nothing.  Had I left it as is, people who saw it in my Facebook timeline never would have known what the piece was about beyond my own comments and this would happen with any subsequent shares or likes the post may have received.

An example from Co.Create showing a bad Facebook fetch.


Most users would ignore the fact that the proper information wasn’t showing and share it anyway, but I’m not most users…

Recognizing there was an issue with how Facebook initially fetched this content, I opened up the Facebook Debugger and plugged in the posts’s URL and clicked “Debug.”  After running the URL Facebook will provide the current scrape information it has for the content and provide an example of how the content will display on Facebook.  After running the URL I discovered that Facebook wasn’t able to access some of the information during it’s first scrape, so I clicked “Fetch new scrape information” and this time Facebook was able to access all the information it needed to properly display the content on Facebook.  After fetching the new information, I saw the following when attempting to share the content again:

Co.Create's Facebook post after debugging

As you can see, the new share includes the image, title, and description that should have been associated with the post when people shared it.  Obviously this is much more appealing to users and likely how Co.Create wanted their content to appear when it was shared on Facebook. (BTW, if anyone from C0.Create is reading this, I have to do this at least once a week for your content.)

Root Causes of Bad Scrape Information

So what causes issues like this and how can you prevent them?  The most common issue I have seen is when a URL is shared prematurely.  This usually happens if you are scheduling out posts on your Facebook Page ahead of time and the content isn’t actually published yet.  When you input the URL, even if you’re scheduling the post for later, Facebook goes to that URL and attempts to fetch the needed information for the post.  If you do this before the content goes live, Facebook will not be able to grab the needed information and will display just the domain infrmation like in the above example.

Another common issue is a site outage or server error.  If your site goes down for any reason while Facebook is doing a fetch of the content it may not capture all of the needed information to properly display on Facebook.

If you’re auto-posting to Facebook or scheduling ahead of time, it’s always a good idea to test the post once it’s live in Debugger and ensure that it’s displaying the way you want it to.  If it’s not, fetch new scrape information and hopefully your issue will be resolved.

One important thing to note is that fetching new scrape information will only help if the needed Open Graph tags are in place and simply weren’t accessible at the time of the initial fetch.  If Open Graph tags have been implemented incorrectly, the debugger may tell you what is wrong, but will still need to have the tags fixed before it will properly display your content.

Why I’ve (Mostly) Stopped Reading SEO Blogs, and What I’m Reading Now

Friday, January 29th, 2016

If this is your first visit to my blog, you probably noticed its been nearly a year since my last blog post.  There are a couple of reasons for that. 1) I simply haven’t had time between agency life, family and other ventures I’m involved in and 2) I was starting to realize how big of an echo chamber the SEO industry and its blogsophere had become.  It felt like everyone was talking, but no one was saying anything new and the only way to make it new was to sensationalize even the smallest industry updates.  If you don’t believe me you should have seen my inbox after Jennifer Slegg released her Google Panda Guide and all the emails promoting posts, webinars, and the like that were going to school me on the “new” Panda algorithm.   It’s this kind of behavior that changed not only my blogging habits, but the kinds of blogs I would read.

You see, prior to the change I was spending upwards of two hours a day on industry blog reading.  I would skim some of it, ignore most of it, but ultimately wouldn’t get much out of it.  Since the release of Panda and Penguin, I believe the SEO world has hit a bit of a plateau.  People aren’t sharing their little gimmicks and tricks to game the system, but instead are sharing their believed methods on how to survive/recover from these algorithms.  When they’re not blogging about Google’s algorithm zoo, they’re rehashing best practices, peppering in some new tools and how to use them, and when they’re really lucky they see a change from Google and sensationalize the hell out of it.  Most of it isn’t useful and when it comes down to it is just the same thing rewritten with someone’s personal spin.  I was so tired of industry content I wiped out most of my SEO feed and took a step back and asked, “What else could you be reading that can make you a better SEO?”

You won’t find the answer in the SEO blogosphere.  It’s found in the places that inspire you.  The places that generate new ideas, encourage self development, and open your mind to new approaches to what you do.  To find these I looked to parallel disciplines, I looked at creative outlets, and what I found was enlightening, educational, inspiring and best of all didn’t feel like I was reading the same blog post on 50 different sites.  Here are just some of the places that I’ve started finding content that has really made me a better, more creative SEO.


Co.Create is a Fast Company blog that features content around creativity in advertising, entertainment, and technology.  If you follow me on Twitter, this is likely a site you see me tweet from quite a bit.  While much of their content is curated from around the web, they also feature a number of original pieces and interviews that as a digital marketer or SEO you’ll find inspiring.  What I like most about their posts is that they are quick and easy to digest, but are always on fun and engaging topics.  Some of my recent favorites include:

Crew Blog

If you’re not familiar with Crew, they are a company that connects people who have a website, app or design idea with professional freelancers that can help them get the job done.  I’ve never used the service, but from time to time I had come across their content online and started following their blog.  What I love about their blog is that they aren’t pushing their service or their industry, instead they share practical tips and information that can apply to any business professional or marketer.  To get a feel for their content, I would highly recommend checking out their recap of their most read articles of 2015.


Digiday is a daily publication that explores all things digital marketing and media.  The publication explores trends in the industry and looks at different channels and mediums brands are using online to market to their customers.  What I like about Digiday is that it gives you a pulse of what’s happening in the digital marketing world.  It can generate inspiration, or just keep you in the know in regards to what other brands and agencies are doing.  Recently I enjoyed:


I don’t remember how I stumbled upon PSFK, but the site is designed for creative professionals to help them better understand the future of pretty much everything.  Topics range from advertising and design to food, travel, and culture.  What I enjoy about PSFK is that they often feature or discuss things that are up and coming, oftentimes it’s a Kickstarter item or a new technology that hasn’t been fully adapted yet.  It really gets you thinking about what could be and where things are headed.  I don’t necessarily have any recent favorites from PSFK, but this is definitely a site I am checking daily.  The only downside is that they appear to have implemented a bit of a paywall, so you can only view so many articles a month without subscribing.


Another digital marketing focused publication, Momentology is a strategy focused publication aimed at more advanced digital marketers.  Another great resource for inspiration and trends, Momentology features original content aimed at helping seasoned marketers “be visible and persuasive in the moments that really matter.”  Some of my recent favorites are:

Don’t let the listicle style titles deter you, I promise the content is more engaging than the titles may lead you to believe.

My Morning Routine

Clearly inspired by my Day in the Life of an SEO series that ended after just one post, featuring Portent’s Ian Lurie, My Mourning Routine explores the morning habits of various personalities in an effort to inspire others to have more productive enjoyable days.  The people featured each week run the gamut from CEO’s and entrepreneur’s to writers and artists, and while I can rarely relate to these self employed movers and shakers I always find their routines fascinating.  This site is more about personal inspiration and how I can better myself as a person, which I hope can carry over into my marketing career.  SEO’s will appreciate that the site recently featured Moz’s Rand Fishkin

The Content Strategist

A digital magazine published by the makers of Contently, The Content Strategist focuses on all things content and content marketing.  What I like most about The Content Strategist is that they feature a lot of diverse content ranging from content marketing trends and best practices to examples and insights from around the industry.  Again, this is a publication where I don’t necesarily have any recent favorites, but it’s a site a read and watch for new content from regularly.

Convince and Convert

Though focused primarily on social media and content marketing, the Convince and Convert blog features a wide array of content that can be leveraged both for education as well as inspiration.  The blog features a lot of ideas and concepts that can be explored by content marketers or organizations thinking of creating content while providing examples and insights into some of the latest industry trends.

Buffer Blog

I put Buffer last because I felt it was one that most people were already familiar with, though it happens to be one of my favorites on this list.  Buffer, for those who may not know, is a tool that allows you to schedule out your social media content over time.  It’s a great tool for curating and sharing content that may be of interest to your readers and one I highly recommend.  That said, the tool isn’t why I love the Buffer blog.  The Buffer blog is a great place for getting new insights and ideas related to social media.  The blog will feature information on the latest trends in social, but they also feature examples of how businesses are leveraging social media.  Buffer is also good at curating lists that will be of use to your business when it comes to social media.  A post I still return to on a regular basis is their extensive list of free image sources. Some other, more recent posts I enjoyed include:

While SEO blogs are still important to keep up on industry trends and happenings, I am reading fewer and fewer these days.  You see I believe that once you’ve mastered the basic concepts of SEO and have built a strong foundation for your SEO efforts, the thing that is going to propel you even further is your creativity and your ability to think beyond just the realm of SEO.  That’s not to say there aren’t new skills that will come along; schema continues to see new applications, and mobile and app indexation continues to evolve, but these are foundational concepts.  Once in place they are only going to take you so far.  Once these are mastered or in place your creativity is what will take you to the next level.  Creative content or ideas can drive visitors, links, social visibility, brand awareness and much more.  Hopefully some of you found something new to inspire you in this post.
What inspires you to be a better SEO?  Share your ideas in the comments!

Why a New Facebook Feature Means It’s Time To Get Serious About Blog Images and OpenGraph

Monday, June 24th, 2013

New Facebook feature which allows Pages to upload content preview imageOver the last couple of weeks, Facebook has been quietly rolling out a new feature to Facebook Page admins that is going to force content creators to start seriously thinking about their use of imagery and Open Graph protocol on their content.

What It Does

The feature, which I just discovered this past Friday allows Page admins to disregard the images suggested by Facebook for a shared piece of content and instead upload an image of their own.  The feature is useful, especially for folks trying to make their Page content look as presentable as possible even if they are sharing from another source.  Where this will be most handy however is when content creators refuse to use imagery in their content and Facebook shares are left with generic imagery from the website.

Why Images Are Important

Imagery not only helps to visualize your content to viewers, it can also help to break up large blocks of content and make your content easier to read.  We are a generation of skimmers, very few people read web copy these days, instead they skim to digest what they can out of content.  Images can help to break up content and make it easier to skim.

If that wasn’t enough, social media has made us an extremely visual culture.  Sites like Facebook and Google+ are automatically pulling imagery from your website to help make content shared on their sites more appealing, so why not make sure its an image that makes sense with your content as opposed to an ad or some other random image off of your website.

By adding relevant imagery you can not only make the content on your site more engaging, but you increase the probability that users who see your content on social networks will click through and view your content.

Adopting the Open Graph

The Open Graph protocol has been used by Facebook for a few years now.  Like the structured markup that can help local SEO, it is a means of helping machines and systems, in this case Facebook, understand more about your content.  With Open Graph you can tell Facebook specifically what the title of your content is, what description to use when it displays your content, and best of all what image it should use when people share your content on Facebook.

By telling Facebook what title, description, and image to use with your content when it’s shared, the odds of people seeing your content exactly as you want it represented when seen on Facebook is that much greater.  Even if you’re using images in your content, this ensures that Facebook can properly access the imagery and use it alongside your content.

This weekend I tried to share a piece of content from a site that was using images in its content, but for some reason the main image that was most relevant to the post wasn’t suggested as an option from Facebook, instead it was pulling irrelevant imagery found in the sidebar of the page.  Had the site been using Open Graph I wouldn’t have had to upload the picture myself before sharing it on my Page.

Image options for the content before and after

Implementing Open Graph

There are a number of ways to integrate and implement the Open Graph protocol into your content.  If you have to hard code the tags into each piece of content I would highly recommend Neil Patel’s piece on social media meta tags.  On the other hand, if you’re a WordPress user like me, you can simply install WordPress SEO by Yoast.  It not only gives you a ton of great SEO functionality, but has Open Graph protocol features built into it that can help ensure your content is seen properly by Facebook.

TL;DR What You Need To Know

  • Facebook is rolling out a new feature that allows Page admins to upload an image of their choice to represent content they share on their page
  • If you want your content to be properly represented visually on social networks you need to make sure you are using images in your content
  • If you want to make sure Facebook is using the right images for your content implement the Open Graph protocol on your content to help Facebook identify the right image to use for your content when its shared
  • If you don’t take this seriously, Pages can choose imagery for your content that may not align with the message or theme you were hoping to convey

Four Automated Sources for Content Curation and Inspiration

Monday, February 11th, 2013

For as long as I have blogged I have struggled with one particular aspect of the process; coming up with topics.  It’s a pretty crucial step and yet its probably the most difficult for me.  Its why I don’t stick to a schedule on any of my blogs and its why I don’t participate in the guest post circuit much.  With that said, I recognize inspiration when I see it, which is why I authored 500+ Blog Topics for the Blogger That’s Stuck back in 2010 and Blog Post Ideas In Unlikely Places in 2011.  But in both those posts you had to go out and do some legwork to find the inspiration.  What if you wanted some regular content for curation or inspiration delivered straight to your inbox?  Here are four tools I use regularly that will give you just that.

Top Tweets and Stories Daily Digest

When Twitter acquired Summify it integrated the Summify content aggregation feature into its service in the form of Top Tweet and Story digests.  If you follow your peers and industry leaders on Twitter these digests can be a great resource of some of the most popular content being shared and talked about by the people you follow.  In Twitter’s notification settings you can choose to receive digests daily or weekly.  The daily digest will be emailed to you on a daily basis and include about eight pieces of content that were the most popular among the people you follow.

Twitter Top Tweets and Stories Digest Email

The best part is that the digest not only showcases some of the hot content among those you follow, but it allows you to reply, retweet, or favorite directly from the email.  You can also click to view individual related tweets on Twitter.  This is a great resource for not only catching up on popular content, but for engaging the people you follow.


Feedera is another form of Twitter digest that you can setup to email you daily.  But what sets Feedera apart is that the digest is divided into the categories photos, articles, videos, and music.  This provides a unique opportunity to curate and be inspired by different types of media being shared by the people you follow on twitter.

Feedera Digest Email

Feedera also comes with a lot of customization options including the size of digest (you can receive up to 100 items in your email), the order in which the content displays, and the total number of each content type you want to see in your digest.  As an added bonus it also allows you to ignore content from certain domains or users so that it doesn’t show up in your digest.  I’ve used Feedera for some time now and the only frustration I have with it is that the email format is inferior to some of the other services I use or have used.  Oftentimes it will also struggle with generating the link to the content and will just show the title and description of the homepage of the site and link to it, which forces you to have to click through to the actual status to see what was shared. is one of the newer tools in my arsenal, but so far I have been pleased with it.  The nice thing about is that it not only captures content from Twitter, but also Facebook.  The email format is very clean and easy to skim and you can choose to receive five, ten, or fifteen items per email. Digest Email

An added benefit of is that if you’re like me and favorite tweets that you want to revisit later there is a setting that can include tweets you favorite in your daily digest.  The only downside I have found to at this point is that the digest is the only one I have seen so far that tends to provide overlapping content found in other digests.


Mosty of the tools I have mentioned up until this point have been good for both inspiration and curation, but Plinky is one tool that is all about the inspiration.  With the tagline, “Because sometimes you need a push,” Plinky was designed to get people talking.  Each day it provides a new prompt such as question, or a challenge and gives you the opportunity to answer.

When I started using Plinky in 2009 I was answering questions like, “Name three songs you’d put on a road trip mix tape,” or “When did you realize you were an adult?”  The prompts were less though provoking and most of the content I created on the site or saw friends create was mindless dribble at best.  Thankfully over the last few years the site has matured a bit and with it so have the prompts.  The questions these days are more thought provoking and force users to really put some thought into their answers.

Plinky Prompts Email

Plinky is designed to have you visit the site and share your answer to the days prompts directly from your Plinky profile.  You can then share your response on Facebook or Twitter.  If you’re looking for social engagement this may be a great opportunity, but you can take Plinky’s prompts a step further and use them as inspiration for blog posts, social updates, and the like.  Take the prompt from Plinky and turn the answer into a blog post on your own site.  You could leave it at that, or you could even visit Plinky and leave a brief response with a link back to your post.

So there you have it.  A little inspiration automation that will deliver some content love to your inbox daily.  If you struggle with coming up with content for your blog or social presence then hopefully these digests will give you some opportunities to generate some new content that will resonate with your audience without having to rack your brain too hard.

If you’re an inbox zero kind of person and don’t want to add to your daily email load you may be able to create a similar strategy using apps like Flipboard, Zite, or Google Currents.  These would create feeds or digests of content from users, topics, or resources you choose but in the form of an app.  I tried this for a bit, but much like Google Reader I found myself getting overwhelm with having too much content to consume on a daily basis.

Why NetworkedBlogs May Not Be the Best Way To Push Your Blog’s Content to Facebook

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

NetworkedBlogsThere are a number of free services available to push your blog traffic to Facebook, and an array of other social networks.  One of the more popular services that I have not only used, but recommended in the past was NetworkedBlogs.  NetworkedBlogs is an extremely popular app used by a number of professional and amateur bloggers to not only push their content to Facebook, but to connect with their other favorite blogs via Facebook. Overall it’s a great service, the problem lies in how the app delivers blog content to Facebook from your blog.

NetworkedBlogs uses iFrame’s to deliver blog content from the app in both user streams and within the app itself.  You may recall a while back that both DIgg and HootSuite took heat for similar practices because people felt the social media giants were stealing site traffic and keeping users within their own site.  Though this is a practice that has been frowned upon time and again, NetworkedBlogs seems to continue doing it without a blink of an eye.  Digg eventually did way with their culprit the “Diggbar” and HootSuite eventually gave their users the option of using a toolbar for links shortened in HootSuite, or the option which would redirect to the long URL.

Why Are iframes Bad?

The problem with iframes are that they place your content within the confines of another website. This creates issues when people link to or share your content. Oftentimes they will reference the URL in the address bar alone, and not think to link to the original content. This means that any links built to the content in the iframe will pass value to the site framing the content, and not the original content creator. And even scarier, if the site providing the iframe or shortened URL shuts down, so does that link to your web content.

What’s the Alternative?

There are a number of alternatives out there if you are looking for something to simply feed your content to Facebook once it goes live.  I recently started using to feed not only to Facebook, but also to Twitter.  Another popular alternative is RSSGraffiti, which I am seeing more websites use as an alternative.  There are a number of alternatives on the market both in the form of Facebook or web app as well as WordPress plugins. The key is to look for services that will redirect you to your website’s full URL and not rely on iframes to deliver your content.

Already using a service to send your blog updates to Facebook or another social network? Share your favorite service in the comments below!